March 14, 2017…. Day 54

Going to enter today’s reporter questions to Sean Spicer while I try to ignore the butterflies in my stomach over Rachel Maddow’s tease about tax returns on her show. (Starts in 29 minutes. I don’t have TV. Twitter will be my eyes and ears.)

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  • Sean, President Trump has said that under his plan there will be insurance for everybody. How do you square that with the CBO numbers, and is that a promise that he can keep?
  • So what does the White House think the change will be next year then?
  • Sean, stating as you did the primary objection of this White House is that the CBO doesn’t take into account Phase 2 and Phase 3. Are there specifics in terms of regulatory reforms or the terms of the legislation that you would offer, that are out there that people could study. Because as you surely know, Tom Cotton among others are skeptical whether these phases could actually–
  • But you’ve been critical from this podium of the way the Democrats passed the ACA. In the interest of transparency, that you accuse them of not following, of shoving it down people’s throats — should the White House put those legislative details out now — should they put those next steps out now–
  • Because there’s a lot of skepticism–
  • Can you put your cards on the table–
  • Would you encourage Republicans to put those details out there–
  • Before the vote?
  • Can I follow up on what Mike was asking about Senator Cotton. Why is the White House giving Senator Cotton full running room to go again and again in the media and to denigrate the House plan, without bringing him in, discussing with him what Mike just brought up — why does he have special dispensation–
  • The President spent time talking to him about his ideas on immigration. Has he called him? Has the Vice President called him?
  • Is Senator Cruz coming today?
  • The Senators?
  • Will you get back to the pool?
  • Thank you.
  • Oh thank you. Ummmm. So, still on the same subject. Does the White House support the House bill the way it is, or amending it. And there’s been reporting that some White House officials are involved in shaping a major significant manager’s amendment in conjunction with conservatives–
  • We can go back and forth–
  • Is the White House writing this amendment? Is Paul Ryan aware of it? I guess we could tell him right now.
  • So all this–just to clarify–the White House is working to shape that manager’s amendment?
  • And on the visit of the deputy Crown Prince today–does that involve the resumption of arms sales, does that involve oil–
  • Thanks Sean. In the middle of all this, there’s also the debt ceiling. How urgent a priority is this, and how concerned is the administration given the letter sent by Secretary Mnuchin last week?
  • Secondly, let me get your reaction to Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare. He called the plan that you put forward a quote, scam — your reaction to that would be what?
  • Thanks Sean. The President several times recently said he would like his health care plan to have healthcare for everybody. The CBO score yesterday seemed to indicate that’s not the case. Will the White House commit that after these phases 2 and 3 if they are implemented, that they will provide health care for everybody? And can you define that for me too?
  • That’s still not everybody.
  • On immigration, the group that tracks sanctuary cities in the U.S. came out with a report that there are now 500 sanctuary cities. That number has grown by about three dozen just this year. Does that concern the White House, and doesn’t it suggest that your warnings about withholding federal funds aren’t getting through to people?
  • Thanks Sean. You mentioned the call with the CEO of Anthem. Can you tell me what this proposal means for health insurance companies? Will their profits go up or down under this proposal?
  • But will those companies make more money?
  • Yes, we’ve seen the White House and Secretary Price push back on calling this health care bill Trump Care. Does anything need to change to make the President comfortable putting his name on the bill?
  • You keep pointing out that the CBO did not take into consideration phases 2 or 3 in their scoring of the first phase. How are they supposed to take into account something that doesn’t yet exist?
  • The other thing I’m curious about — the President called this a big beautiful negotiation. People like Jim Jordan call it a big beautiful DUD. Is there a way to hammer it into shape, where you can satisfy conservatives–or do you have to rip it up and start all over again? Because Jim Jordan said just this morning that the fundamental aspects of what was promised to American people by the House members when they ran for election in the fall, and the President when he ran for election, is not in this bill.
  • Freedom caucus member (inaudible, inaudible)
  • I’m saying they didn’t get a chance (inaudible)
  • I did not say that.
  • Sean, let’s continue that conversation. The manager’s amendment is a tacit admission that the bill as written cannot pass–
  • You wouldn’t have to do that amendment if you had the votes, correct?
  • (inaudible) freedom caucus support–
  • –the tax credits, or other —
  • (inaudible) it’s not–
  • The bill is about getting votes. You can’t have a strong bill without getting it passed, right?
  • To Tom Cotton’s point, prongs 2 and 3. He went out of the way to talk about that part of the process (c-span is acting up and won’t rewind but Cotton told Republicans, if you walk the plank on this bill, don’t assume that these other prongs will exist.)
  • And you can get 60 votes–
  • Thanks Sean. As you know, the DOJ now has an additional week to produce evidence of Trump’s wiretapping claim. How confident is the White House that there will be evidence?
  • When a decision is announced, will he make a statement about the evidence or lack of evidence?
  • Evidence will be presented?
  • Because the House intelligence committee has given the administration until Monday…
  • Is it possible there may be nothing?
  • Something will be presented.
  • Ok, and follow up on coverage. You were saying that if people can’t get access, they can’t get coverage. But if you remove the individual mandate, some people will not buy insurance. Will you admit that there will be millions of people not covered?
  • The mandate pushes people to buy insurance, but if they don’t buy insurance you get the free rider problem when they show up at the emergency room–
  • But at least you’ll get your coverage. If you show up at the emergency room, you’re not just going to be paying out of pocket until you die. You’ll at least have catastrophic coverage–
  • But that number is massive by the year 2026, more than 20 million Americans–
  • That’s a talking point but at least there’s coverage in those states. If you pull this away, you’re going to have people with no coverage. There is an argument that the subsidies–
  • Government run healthcare has run amok? Medicare is government run healthcare. You don’t hear people screaming that they want you to get rid of their Medicare.
  • But the President’s ok with there being millions of people without healthcare coverage?
  • Sean, different subject. The intelligence committee yesterday basically issued a subpoena threat. Does the White House have a response to that and do you think it will get that far?
  • And on a separate note, does he have a position on Anthem’s merger with Cigna?
  • One last follow up, on Saudi, can you give us a sense of what was on the agenda before they sat down?
  • Coming up in the rest of the year are four special elections for the House, all of which are sure to draw national attention as venues for debate on the ACA. Does the President plan to be involved on behalf of the candidates as this may well be a barometer on where people are on the bill?
  • Thanks Sean, you said earlier the the White House doesn’t have projections on how many people will lose coverage.
  • If you’re advocating for a plan, how will you be able to assess whether you’ve been successful–if you’re not going to project that yourself, and you say the CBO scoring is invalid?
  • Thanks a lot Sean, I want to ask you about the AHCA but I want to see if you have an answer to the question I asked yesterday, as to whether there are repercussions to the five year rule on lobbying.
  • On the AHCA, you used language very similar to what Paul Ryan used. You talk about a binary choice between this legislation and Obamacare. Why does it have to be bill–why can’t the House negotiate on something that the freedom caucus thinks is better legislation?
  • It sounded like you were telling Mike to ask Paul Ryan about phases 2 and 3. When can we expect to see a list of regulatory changes from the White House?
  • And also it sounded like you were saying the WH is confident that you’ll get to 60 votes on those phases–
  • Yesterday Secretary Price said he wasn’t saying to disregard the CBO report entirely. but you aid the CBO was consistently wrong and you questioned their credibility.
  • Sean, I asked you yesterday about the President’s response to Steve King. Do you have anything on that?
  • Reports surfaced Friday that the President will support primary challengers to conservative lawmakers who don’t support the final version of the AHCA. Can you confirm that and say what the President would be looking for in primary candidates?
  • Sean, does the President believe he’s being surveilled through microwave ovens?

Technical difficulties, to be continued…


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